Steering sensors to warn you if you’re fainting

You are driving happily until uneasiness overtakes you. But you can know whether it is a fainting spell or a gas, thanks to a new sensor system built into the steering wheel.

“The system could turn on the hazard warning lights, reduce the speed or even induce automated emergency braking,” says Tim C. Lueth, professor in micro-technology at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), Germany, who developed it with the BMW Group.

The sensors monitor vital signs such as heart rate, blood oxygen levels, recognise fainting spells and heart attacks, according to a TUM statement.

A series of other systems developed for monitoring vital signs during a drive have their limitations.

But by integrating sensors with the steering, scientists managed to go around the laborious wiring of the driver.

The data collected is radioed to a microcontroller, which in turn can show the measurement results on the vehicle information system display.

“Our vision is to get the vehicle to detect when the driver is no longer feeling well and to initiate appropriate measures,” says Lueth.

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